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Abstract: New Zealand is a leader in the global dairy industry. Milk powder is the principal export product, but there is also a prominent cheese manufacturing industry, catering more for the domestic market. The Selected Ion Flow Tube‐Mass Spectrometric (SIFT‐MS) technique was used to compare 4 New Zealand cheeses marketed as “parmesan” with 4 Italian Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano cheeses. The cheese headspace was analyzed in real time without any sample preconcentration. Total of 38 volatile compounds in the cheese headspace were monitored with headspace concentrations varying between single digit parts per billion (ppb) to tens of parts per million (ppm). When the results were subjected to multivariate statistical analysis, a clear discrimination was found between the New Zealand “parmesan” and Italian cheeses based solely on the measured concentrations of these volatile compounds. If the volatile compounds used in the analyses were restricted to known odor‐active compounds in Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, the ability to discriminate between the cheeses was maintained. The analyses also showed that it was possible to clearly differentiate between the different processing plants in individual countries. Important discriminatory volatiles in the samples tested were butanoic acid and phenylacetaldehyde for discriminating between Italian cheeses and ethyl butyrate, acetaldehyde and methylbutanals between New Zealand cheeses. We conclude that the New Zealand “parmesans” do not provide a good representation of the aroma of Italian “parmesans.”
Practical Application: SIFT‐MS has been shown to clearly differentiate both country of origin and the manufacturer of “parmesan” cheeses made in Italy and New Zealand based on differences in volatile organic compounds. Thus this method will have benefit for use in the quality control of “parmesan” and other cheese varieties.
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